What Is Autism Spectrum Disorder?

What Defines Autism Spectrum Disorder?

Autism spectrum disorder, or ASD, refers to a range of neurodevelopmental disorders including autism disorder, Asperger’s syndrome, and pervasive developmental disorder — not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS). Autism spectrum disorder is characterized by symptoms such as experiencing difficulties with both verbal and nonverbal communication, facing challenges with social interaction, and exhibiting repetitive patterns of behavior. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, autism is defined as a “spectrum” disorder due to the vast differences in severity and specific symptoms individuals with ASD will encounter.

What Is Autism Spectrum Disorder?

Some common symptoms of autism include, but are not limited to:

  • Delayed development of speech in early years
  • Difficulties understanding some social cues, like facial expressions, eye contact, body language, or gestures
  • Excessive fixation on specific objects, interests, or activities
  • Speaking in an unusual tone, such as a sing-song or monotone voice
  • Repeating specific phrases or dialogue
  • Challenges with making and/or maintaining relationships
  • Showing distress or throwing tantrums in new or overwhelming situations

What Causes Autism Spectrum Disorder?

There is no exclusive risk factor determined to cause ASD, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, although it is proposed that autism may be caused due to a mixture of environmental and genetic factors. Some research findings suggest that environmental risks may present a greater chance of developing ASD, as cases of autism continue to see a rising trend in prevalence that the EPA states cannot be explained by genetic factors alone.

How Can Autism Spectrum Disorder Be Treated?

Although there is no known cure for autism spectrum disorder, symptoms can greatly improve with early diagnosis and treatment, according to the American Psychiatric Association. Because ASD affects such areas as speech and behavior, intervening early can significantly benefit a child’s development during their formative years. Some therapies that can help those with ASD include applied behavioral analysis (ABA) among other behavioral modification techniques, speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, and more.

Children do not typically outgrow autism, and in fact are often at a higher risk of developing comorbid disorders such as ADHD, depression, or anxiety later in life. Continuing treatment throughout adolescence and adulthood can be particularly beneficial for individuals as they grow and adjust to different stages of life.

If you or a loved one experience symptoms of ASD and are seeking treatment or a professional diagnosis, Pandora’s House Psychiatry is here for you. Located in Farmersville, Texas, we are dedicated to serving our Collin County community with diligent psychiatric care delivered with sensitivity, understanding, and trust. At Pandora’s House, we strive to increase access to mental health care and raise awareness of the many benefits of treatment. To make an appointment, call us today at (972)784-3064 or visit us online.

Warning Signs of Sensory Processing Disorder

Sensory processing disorder is a condition in which a person has trouble receiving the information that comes in through his senses.  Many kids with SPD are often hypersensitive, and this is why certain food textures, smells, and sights might overwhelm your child at times.  Kids with SPD might also struggle with coordination, and could have meltdowns over the smallest things.  Other kids with SPD might be picky eaters and won’t wear certain types of clothing due to their sensory issues.  Here are other warning signs of SPD.

Warning Signs of Sensory Processing Disorder

Highly Distractible

Some kids with SPD might be easily distracted and bored.  They thrive on activities that have lots of movement such as jumping, walking, running, and other types of play-based activities.  This makes sitting still for homework or other everyday tasks difficult for those with this condition.  It is also why many occupational therapists recommend a sensory diet as part of a child’s therapy if he was diagnosed with SPD.

Not Understanding Boundaries

A common characteristic of SPD is the lack of understanding of someone’s personal space.  This explains why your child tends to get in your face frequently, get too friendly with strangers, or touch everything in sight even though some objects could hurt him.

Poor Motor Skills

There are also some kids with SPD whose motor skills aren’t the best.  They might have a hard time with fine motor skills and it is difficult for them to learn how to tie shoelaces, hold a pencil, write words on paper, or dress themselves properly.  Other kids with SPD struggle with gross motor skills and it affects their ability to catch a ball or walk without losing balance.

Extreme Picky Eating

All kids can be picky eaters at times, but if your child will only eat crunchy foods or have a severely limited diet, then he might have SPD.  Your child might also have extreme food texture preferences such as spicy or sour foods.

How To Get Help for Your Child

The first step is to meet with your pediatrician and discuss the concerns you have about your child.  From there, the pediatrician would recommend a good occupational therapist or pediatric neurologist in your area. Once your child is diagnosed, he can begin occupational therapy and any additional treatment to improve his symptoms.

In conclusion, your child can thrive with SPD. With the best treatment, patience, and effort from you, your child will succeed despite his condition.

If you need help with getting a SPD diagnosis and treatment for your child, contact us. We’re here to assist you in getting the services you need.

What are Neurodevelopmental Disorders?

Background

Neurodevelopmental disorders are those that affect the brain and nervous system. Some examples include attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism, learning disabilities, intellectual disabilities (previously referred to as mental retardation), conduct disorders, cerebral palsy, and vision and hearing impairments. People with neurodevelopmental disorders can have difficulties in many areas of their lives. They may have trouble with memory, language and speech, motor skills, behavior, or learning. Although some neurodevelopmental disorders may improve with age, many people will have their disorder for their entire lives. Treatment for these disorders usually include a combination of therapy, medication, and home- and school-based programs.

What are Neurodevelopmental Disorders?

Causes

Genetics play a big role in the acquiring of neurodevelopmental disorders. Some disorders, especially intellectual disabilities, are even linked to specific genes. However, most are caused by a combination of genetic, environmental, and psychosocial factors. Genetic causes may include (but are not limited to) chromosomal deletion, or the loss of genetic material, or single-nucleotide polymorphism, where one molecule of DNA is miscopied. Environmental causes include maternal use of drugs or alcohol, childhood or prenatal exposure to harmful substances, preterm delivery, low birth-weight, and low socioeconomic status. Psychosocial causes include exposure to repeated psychological stressors like trauma and abuse.

Types of Neurodevelopmental Disorders

According to the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB), neurodevelopmental disorders can be split into six categories: attention deficit disorders, developmental movement disorders, language and learning disorders, intellectual disabilities, mood and anxiety disorders, and autism spectrum disorders. Below is a list of the most common types of disorders for each category.

Attention Deficit Disorders

  • ADHD combined Type
  • ADHD Inattentive Type- or ADD

Developmental Movement Disorders

  • Cerebral palsy
  • Developmental Dyspraxia
  • Developmental Oral Apraxia

Language and Learning Disorders

  • Expressive or Receptive Language Disorders
  • Articulation Disorders
  •  Stuttering
  • Dyslexia (reading)
  • Dyscalculia (math)
  • Dysgraphia (writing)
  • Nonverbal Learning Disorder

Intellectual Disabilities

  • Fragile X Syndrome
  • Down Syndrome

Mood & Anxiety Disorders

  • Mood: Dysthymia, Major Depression, Bipolar Disorder.
  • Anxiety: Phobias, Selective Mutism, Generalized Anxiety.
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Autism Spectrum Disorders

  • Asperger Syndrome
  • Autism

Finding Help at Pandora’s House Psychiatry

If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with a neurodevelopmental disorder or are in need of a diagnosis, Pandora’s House Psychiatry can help. We are dedicated to serving our Collin County community with diligent psychiatric care delivered with sensitivity, understanding, and trust. At Pandora’s House, we strive to increase access to mental health care and raise awareness of the many benefits of treatment. Call us at (972) 784-3064 or visit us online today.

References

Information for this article comes from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), The University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB), The Mayo Clinic, and the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) at the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Agoraphobia Is A Serious And Even Detrimental Anxiety Disorder

Agoraphobia is a specific anxiety disorder that can manifest in several specific ways, all of which can involve numerous panic attacks and a refusal to leave a place the sufferer feels is safe. The word, in Latin, directly translates into the fear of the marketplace. In an ego-driven, consumerist society, the entire world outside the home is that marketplace.

Agoraphobia Is A Serious And Even Detrimental Anxiety Disorder

Many people with agoraphobia can be misdiagnosed with a generalized anxiety disorder, but in reality, almost 2% of all adults have agoraphobia and 40% of those already diagnosed have it severely. There are several specific symptoms of agoraphobia to look out for.

Specific Symptoms

Many people with this disorder fear that they will wander into an unpredictable situation that they may not be able to run away from or get out of. People with agoraphobia may feel intense fear and anxiety in the following situations:

  • leaving their home, or safe space, either alone or with a partner
  • large crowds and waiting in lines for extended periods
  • open and enclosed spaces (movie theaters, parking garages, parks, elevators, for example)
  • using any form of transportation, especially public transportation around several other people

Sometimes, even thinking about being in these situations can start an anxiety attack while those of us around the individual may not see or understand the threat. Those who suffer from severe agoraphobia may not be able to leave their homes or their safe spaces without serious physical responses that can mimic a heart attack and then further increase the already high level of fear and anxiety.

The Safe Space

Cognitive behavior therapy for anxiety symptoms teaches us to close our eyes and visualize ourselves inside our designated safe space. The theory is that our anxiety symptoms will decrease once we begin to smell the familiar scents and feel the familiar feels. The anxiety for someone who suffers from agoraphobia begins at this safe space, so this behavioral modification practice must also be modified through a more specialized treatment and even medications.

If you are a family member or are close to a person who seems to suffer from agoraphobia, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that they are being lazy or entitled, as some have done. Your loved one needs help to get back to living their best life.

Contact us at Pandora’s House for further information on how we can help you and your loved ones get back to the lives you want to lead. Our high-quality and compassionate team is dedicated fully to giving you comprehensive and quality psychiatric care. Let’s meet and discuss an individualized treatment plan to combat your problems. You can be happy again.

 

Types of Depression

Background

Depression is a mood disorder, meaning it affects the way one thinks, feels, and behaves. Symptoms of depression must be present for at least two weeks for someone to be diagnosed with it. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, signs and symptoms of depression may include (but are not limited to):

Types of Depression

  • Persistent feelings of sadness or anxiety
  • Feeling irritable
  • Loss of interest in hobbies
  • Moving and talking slower than normal
  • Difficulty making decisions and concentrating
  • Changes in appetite or weight
  • Aches and pains that do not respond well to treatment and lack a clear cause
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Feeling guilty, helpless, or worthless
  • Decreased energy or fatigue
  • Feeling restless
  • Problems with sleep, including insomnia or hypersomnia
  • Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts

You don’t have to experience every symptom in order to be depressed. In fact, most people don’t. Several persistent symptoms along with a low mood are required for diagnosis, but symptoms can vary depending on the individual, the stage of depression, and type of the illness they are experiencing.

Types of Depression

Depression can sometimes develop under certain circumstances or in ways that set it apart from other forms of depression. Some specific types of depression include:

  • Persistent depressive disorder. This is a depressed mood that lasts for more than two years. Someone diagnosed with this type of depression can have episodes of severe depression broken up by times when they experience less severe symptoms, but they must have symptoms for more than two years to be diagnosed with persistent depressive disorder.
  • Postpartum depression. This type of depression occurs after a mother gives birth to her baby. It is more extreme than the “baby blues”, or feelings of mild anxiety or sadness that clear up in a few weeks on their own. Postpartum depression can make it difficult for new mothers to take care of their babies and themselves.
  • Psychotic depression. Psychotic depression is a type of depression that includes severe depression along with psychotic symptoms such as hallucinations and delusions. Hallucinations are described as seeing or hearing things that aren’t there, and delusions are false fixed beliefs. Someone with psychotic depression may have delusions that fit in with a depressing theme, such as falsely believing they are terminally ill.
  • Seasonal affective disorder. Seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, is brought on by the winter months when there is less sunlight. Depressive symptoms occur every winter and typically ease up in the spring.
  • Bipolar disorder. Although bipolar disorder is different from depression, the depressive episodes it brings about meet the criteria for major depression. Bipolar disorder is also characterized by periods of extreme euphoria or irritableness called mania, along with less severe periods called hypomania.

This list is not exhaustive. If you are experiencing the symptoms of depression, it’s important that you reach out to someone who can help.

How Pandora’s House Can Help

If you or a loved one are experiencing symptoms of depression in the North Dallas area, Pandora’s House Psychiatry can help. We are dedicated to serving our Collin County community with diligent psychiatric care delivered with sensitivity, understanding, and trust. At Pandora’s House, we strive to increase access to mental health care and raise awareness of the many benefits of treatment. To make an appointment, call us at (972) 784-3064 or visit us online today.

References

Information for this article comes from the National Institute of Mental Health.

Social Anxiety: Not “Just Being Shy”

It’s normal to be shy around strangers. It’s not uncommon to be nervous about public speaking and social gatherings. But when it reaches the point it has a significant impact on your life, that could be an indicator of something more serious. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, social anxiety (or social phobia) is defined as “intense anxiety or fear of being judged, negatively evaluated, or rejected in a social or performance situation.” Social phobia is ranked as the second most diagnosed anxiety disorder. 12% of the United States population meets the criteria for diagnosis. It usually starts during the teen years and is more likely to affect women than men.

Social Anxiety: Not "Just Being Shy"

Symptoms

There are two categories of social anxiety disorder: generalized and non-generalized.

Generalized

In the generalized category, symptoms are present in most social situations. This includes social interactions and performance situations. The symptoms are more severe than in non-generalized social anxiety disorder.

Non-generalized (Specific)

Symptoms in this category are present in specific social situations. They may fear one specific situation or several settings, but do not fear most situations.

Some symptoms include:

  • Little eye contact
  • Speaking with a soft voice
  • Avoiding social or performance situations
  • Difficulty being assertive
  • Experiencing test anxiety or refusing to take part in the classroom

Along with these behaviors, there are physical symptoms:

  • Rapid heart rate
  • Sweating
  • Trembling
  • Nausea
  • Rigid Posture
  • Panic Attacks

The development of other anxiety or mood disorders can occur, as well as substance abuse. Suicidal thoughts can also occur in severe cases.

Treatment

Some forms of treatment include:

  • Psychotherapy
  • Support Groups
  • Medications

The most successful treatment is a combination of medication and CBT or other psychotherapies.

At Pandora’s House, we provide high-quality, compassionate care with individualized treatment plans. Located in Farmersville, Texas, we provide care to the Collin County, Texas community. To start your journey towards recovery, please contact us to schedule an appointment.

Counseling and Covid-19

The current Covid-19 pandemic is unlike anything else; creating unprecedented anxiety, depression, chronic stress, and other mental health issues many have never experienced. Speaking with a trained professional can alleviate stress and worry, create positive thinking and mindsets, and create a cathartic and releasing experience. Here are some types of counseling to consider.

Counseling and Covid-19

GRIEF COUNSELING

Don’t be put off by the name—grief counseling is a versatile option. Grief is defined as any distress caused by loss or bereavement. Students lost their spring semester and seniors lost many final rituals; parents may have lost jobs; people, generally, have experienced a loss of life as they knew it. Some may have even lost a relative or friend to the pandemic. Grief counseling serves to explore the feelings of loss and process them healthily. Whether it serves to address losing graduation and prom, or a loved one, people have rightfully experienced significant loss in the last few months.

FAMILY COUNSELING

Stay-at-home orders across the country are forcing many families to spend long hours with each other that would otherwise be dedicated to school and work. Tensions are rising, siblings are bickering, and parents are unable to keep the peace. Family counselors aim to work out specific conflicts within a household by creating a treatment plan that involves each family member. With dedicated sessions to addressing personal conflicts within familial relationships, family counseling can rebalance the home and relieve strain.

PERSONAL COUNSELING

You might be thinking that your problem isn’t worth speaking to a counselor about—there are other, bigger issues going on. That statement couldn’t be more wrong; mental health is neither a competition nor an endurance test. Therapists and counselors are there to listen to whatever your stresses may be—and help you through them. Personal counseling can lead to better management of stress, an improved sense of self, and a release of pent-up emotions. Though speaking to friends can often create a feeling of shared experiences, speaking to a trained professional will help you mentally, physically, and emotionally.

Counseling services can be utilized no matter the circumstance you’re facing. With our telehealth visits, mental health treatment is more accessible than ever. For more help and resources, contact us today to get started.

3 Signs You Might Be Experiencing Depression

We all go through periods of sadness, but that’s not the same thing as experiencing depression. Depression is a serious mental health disorder that can start severely disrupting your life if left untreated. Sadness can be and is often a symptom of depression, but here are some other signs to watch out for:

3 Signs You Might Be Experiencing Depression

Loss of interest

Pay attention if you find yourself losing interest in activities that you used to enjoy. For example, maybe you’re an avid runner, but lately you’ve noticed that going out for a jog doesn’t give you the same positive feeling that it used to and you just don’t feel like running. This isn’t something you want to ignore. Loss of interest in pleasurable activities can be a symptom of a depressive disorder, so make sure you tell your doctor or mental health provider about these feelings.

Chronic fatigue

Of course, people feel tired for all sorts of different reasons, and exhaustion on its own doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re depressed. However, if you find that there’s been a significant decrease in your energy levels lately, especially if it’s accompanied by feelings of sadness, loss of interest in life, or other feelings like irritability, it may mean that you’re facing depression. Your doctor can examine you to rule out other possible causes for the chronic fatigue.

Worthlessness or hopelessness

If you’re having thoughts like: “Nothing will ever get better,” “I’m no good at anything,” or “I’m useless,” this might be a sign that you’re experiencing symptoms of depression. Nobody feels great about themselves all the time, but depression causes us to think even more negatively of ourselves and get stuck in a loop of critical self-talk. If these thoughts become so intense that you find yourself feeling suicidal or wishing you were dead, please contact emergency services.

Pandora’s House Psychiatry is committed to providing compassionate psychiatric care to the Collin County community. If you or your loved one are experiencing any of these symptoms, please contact us today to set up an appointment.

Physical, Mental & Emotional Symptoms of Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety is a necessary part of living, as it creates a sense of urgency to do things that need doing. Without worry or anxiety, we would do nothing. Anxiety, however, becomes a problem when it interferes with what we need and want to do. It also manifests in physical, mental, and emotional forms.  There are many different symptoms of anxiety disorders.

Physical, Mental & Emotional Symptoms of Anxiety Disorders

Physical Anxiety Symptoms

Physical anxiety symptoms are widely varied and differ for each person, but most of them are consistent enough to identify as unhealthy anxiety when considered together.

Typical physical anxiety symptoms include:

  • Increased Heart Rate
  • Difficulty Breathing
  • Cold Sweats
  • Shaky Hands
  • Internal Shaking
  • Dry Mouth
  • Nausea
  • Difficulty Sleeping
  • Loss of Appetite

If you experience several or more of these symptoms on a regular basis, or in specific situations, it’s likely that you are dealing with high levels of anxiety. In regard to specific situations, some people experience only one or two symptoms of anxiety in crowds, elevators, or even while being a passenger in a vehicle.

Mental & Emotional Anxiety Symptoms

Mental and emotional anxiety is more complicated, and it usually occurs in conjunction with physical symptoms of anxiety. Mental anxiety involves things like:

  • Uncontrollable Thinking
  • What-ifs or Doomsday Scenarios
  • Desire to Escape Situations
  • Constant Worry
  • Feeling Out of Control
  • Irritability
  • Self-Defeating Thoughts
  • Feeling Disconnected
  • Avoidance

Uncontrollable thinking occurs when the same thoughts continue to come into the mind, even though we don’t want to think about them. It also occurs when the mind envisions bad things happening without provocation. Similarly, what-ifs and doomsday scenarios are normal, but if they pop into the mind quite frequently, it’s a sign of problematic anxiety.

The desire to escape situations that seemingly pose no real threat to person or property is a key indicator of significant anxiety levels. This type of anxiety often relates to situations in the past that have not been emotionally processed.

Feeling disconnected to others can also be a sign of unhealthy anxiety, as well as avoidance of people and situations. These are strong indicators that anxiety is affecting behaviors, especially if the avoidance behaviors concern responsibilities and daily tasks.

Anxiety often mirrors symptoms of depression, and the two disorders frequently go hand-in-hand. For more information about anxiety and well-being, contact us.